A kanban board is an agile project management tool designed to help visualize work, limit work-in-progress, and maximize efficiency (or flow). Kanban boards use cards, columns, and continuous improvement to help technology and service teams commit to the right amount of work, and get it done!
"Kanban" is the Japanese word for "visual signal." If you work in services or technology, your work is often times invisible and intangible. A kanban board helps make your work visible so you can show it to others and keep everyone on the same page.
Kanban has come a long way from its origins in lean manufacturing thanks to a small but mighty group of kanban enthusiasts. David Anderson’s work defining the kanban method helped bring kanban into the software and services space, and Personal Kanban, by Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria, helped expand the applications of kanban to places you wouldn’t believe.
Example of a kanban board
I use kanban boards every day and couldn’t imagine life without them. The ideas and best practices here are a peppering of my personal experiences, research, and conversations I had with with Zach Nies, Keith Nottinson, and Jim Benson.
What keeps me coming back to kanban are the kanban values and (surprising) lack of rules. The kanban values are respect for people and continuous improvement.